Produce events that changed history - The Packer

Produce events that changed history

09/16/2013 12:51:00 PM
Tom Karst


Arthur U. Chaney In 1907, Arthur U. Chaney founded the American Fruit Exchange -- which a year later became the American Cranberry Exchange. He was a pioneer in organizing growers into sales and marketing blocs. He also fought for the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, enacted in 1930, which sought to restrict fraudulent produce marketing practices. Chaney was born on an Illinois farm in 1874 and later lived in Des Moines, Iowa, with his brother, Chester. They operated cranberry bogs in Wisconsin, which at the time was a state that paid growers individually for the fruit they brought in. That gave Chaney, who was known to growers as A.U. Chaney, the idea to become a fresh fruit broker for an organized group of farmers to develop orderly marketing conditions. Chaney headed to New York City where the exchange represented and handled sales for New Jersey, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Chaney operated the cranberry exchange until his death in 1941. The American Cranberry Exchange changed its name to Eatmore Cranberries Inc. in the early 1940s and continued to operate until 1954. At that time it closed its doors because most growers were diverting to processing with Ocean Spray.


Bruce Church: An innovator, a calculated risk-taker and a leader, Bruce Church helped push technological ventures that changed the fruit and vegetable industry. He was a leading lettuce breeder, and his investment and leadership in the Growers Ice and Development Co. and The Vacuum Cooling Co. spurred development of reliable refrigerated produce storage and shipments. In 1922, Church began his stint in the industry, working for the Tracy Waldron Fruit Co. in San Francisco. He returned to his Salinas Valley roots in 1927 and met his future business partner, Whitney Knowlton. He eventually bought out Knowlton and created Bruce Church Inc. in 1931. Church formed another partnership with Ken Nutting, Gene Harden and Russ Merrill in 1937. These four men created Growers Ice and Development Co. to provide the industry with much-needed ice-packing services for shipping fresh vegetables. Another of Church's innovations was one of the first seed and soil research programs. His research program produced about 50 percent of the lettuce seed used in the industry at the time. Church worked with the Salinas Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association to set up mandatory quality produce standards. He worked to improve relations between the Western Growers Association and government agencies. At the time of his death in 1958 he was dictating a speech for the WGA. He also was civic-minded. He led the produce industry battle against federal efforts to provide price supports during the Korean War and donated land to build the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital.

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AZ  |  September, 16, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Difficult question for a top 3. The produce industry can change history and just as often, it is changed by history. Assuming farmers are usually the lowest men on the totem pole, I'll try going for the demand side. 1. The rise of fast-food and continuing trend for convenience and eating out of the home (many reasons for that). 2. The growth of mega-retailers like Walmart and accompanying buy side consolidation and quest for supply-side efficiency. 3. GATT,later WTO and widespread trade liberalization offering both challenges and opportunities.

Tom K    
Lenexa  |  September, 17, 2013 at 05:09 PM

Those are strong. I especially like 2 in your list. Luis. Tom K

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